Tag Archives: How Does Retinol Counteract Aging

Vitamin A Derivatives That Improve Skin Texture, Tone, and Color

As is the case with many of the best discoveries, the use of vitamin A as a wrinkle control agent happened largely by accident. It all began in the laboratories of Dr. Albert Kligman in the 1960’s when the controversial dermatologist began to experiment on prisoners with a vitamin A derivative called tretinoin as an acne treatment. Imagine the delight of the incarcerated men to discover not only the disappearance of their acne, but a noticeable decrease in wrinkles and smoother skin tones!

Woman applying vitamin A on her skin

Vitamin A and its derivatives have often been referred to as the “gold standard of skin care,” a paragon of excellence against which all other skin care products can be measured. If you are thinking of incorporating some vitamin A into your routine, here are some things you may want to know.

Retinoids
Retinoids are also known as the generic term for tretinoin, retin-A, or differin, and are available only by prescription. They are absorbed directly into the skin cells which makes them highly effective against hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and acne.

The downside of this miracle cream is its likelihood to cause skin irritation. Retinoids are often associated with redness and peeling and require adjustment to the dosage to combat these side effects. The key with these products is keeping the applied amount to a minimum. A pea-sized amount should be enough for the whole face, and a larger quantity is unnecessary.

Retinol
Retinol is vitamin A in its pure form and is an over the counter alternative to harsher retinoids. While the conversion to retinoic acid will decrease the potency of the retinol, it should still be effective enough to bring noticeable results. Although retinol may trigger minor irritation, side effects should generally subside over time as the skin grows more accustomed to the treatment.

Retinyl Palmitate
This combination of retinol and palmitic acid is one of the less effective vitamin A derivatives. While it does convert to retinoic acid, the process often takes so long that by the time it is completed, the product has lost most of its ability to affect the DNA of the cell. As a result, you would need a very high concentration of retinal palmitate to have significant effect, and most cosmetic companies who use it as a source of vitamin A usually do not put enough of it in their serums and creams to make a difference.
The bottom line: If retinyl palmitate is not combined with other vitamin A derivatives, it is almost useless.

Retinaldehyde
Retinaldehyde is a potent over the counter form of vitamin A which is commonly perceived to be the closest to retinoic acid without the irritating side effects. However, it is important to take note of content in your product. In order to be effective, a retinaldehyde concentration of 0.05% to 0.1% needs to be present. This is the equivalent of a 0.025 tretinoin. The biggest side effect of retinaldehyde will be the lightening of your purse. Most skin care products containing substantial amounts of the ingredient will be on the high-end side in price, so be prepared to pay for quality.

Other Advice
Be aware that vitamin A is not stable and tends to lose potency when it interacts with sunlight. Creams and serums are therefore best applied at night. Do not use a cleanser with retinoids, as the retinoids depend on contact with skin to achieve full benefit and should not be washed away. When purchasing retinoids, look for packaging that minimizes exposure to air and light which can affect the stability of the vitamin.

Let us know your choice when it comes to choosing Vitamin A derivatives. Which ones work best for you?

Why Retinol is so Important for Anti-Aging

Retinol, while not a new skincare ingredient, is everywhere and pops up in products from potent antioxidant serums to foundations. The reason that retinol is everywhere? Because it works. Retinol is an incredibly effective skincare ingredient that fights the signs of aging and encourages skin to act in a younger, healthier way. Find out just what retinol is and why it is so important for anti-aging below.

Vitamin A chemical formula

What is Retinol?
Retinol is just another name for vitamin A and it can be broken down into more potent compounds that are referred to as retinoids. “Retinol is an extremely effective cell-communicating ingredient, which means it can literally connect to almost any skin cell and tell it to behave like a healthy, younger skin cell,” explains skincare expert Paula Begoun. Retinol is somewhat of an umbrella term and the vitamin A molecule is broken down into many derivatives of vitamin A that are known as retinoids. In a paper published on PubMed Central, a service of the US National Library of Medicine, the authors state that “retinoids are very well known to influence a variety of cellular processes, such as cellular growth and differentiation, cell surface alterations and immune modulation.” It is the influence that retinol and retinol derivatives have at the cellular level that are responsible for the immense anti-aging benefits of these ingredients.

How Does Retinol Counteract Aging?
“Retinol is an antioxidant, and thus can help interrupt the free-radical damage process that cause skin to look and act older. This action helps prevent wrinkling and increases collagen production,” says Begoun. In order to actually influence cell behavior, retinol has to undergo a process of breakdown and conversion. “Before retinol can successfully go to work in skin, it must be converted into it’s active form – all-trans retinoic acid. Once retinol has been applied to skin, enzymes in the skin break it down into all-trans retinoic acid, which then goes on to help regulate cell function,” notes Begoun.

As you age, the effects of sun damage become more visible and apparent in the forms of discoloration or sun spots, fine lines and wrinkles and larger pores. Retinol, when converted to retinoic acid, is able to influence cells that fight against these signs of aging. Although retinol can’t reduce large pores caused by genetics, it is able to decrease pore size that occurs as a result of sun damage. In addition, retinol promotes an increase in substances that enhance and improve the skin’s structural elements, meaning your skin is strengthened, and retinol is also helpful at stimulating collagen production which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Retinol is available in a variety of forms and can be found in cosmetic products that are readily available. There are also prescription strength retinol products that are used both for acne and aging. Before beginning a retinol regime, it’s important to know that retinol can cause sensitivity and irritation and it often takes some time before your skin gets used to this ingredient. Consulting with a dermatologist or doctor is a great way to know what concentration of retinol would be most beneficial. While there is no single ingredient that magically solves aging concerns, when retinol is used with other quality ingredients and products, it is an incredibly effective ingredient that helps skin look and act younger.